tv The Last Word MSNBC July 21, 2011 12:00am-1:00am PDT
job. protestors is part of our american way, it just isn't the same as governing. that's "hardball." thanks for being with us. the "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" starts right now. >> some republicans have decided that it's time to stop michele bachmann. >> i feel great. >> she's not going to vote at all to lift the debt ceiling. >> michele bachmann is being rightfully called out. >> michele bachmann feels great, but her tea party is washington's biggest headache. >> and they are sort of of cult fringe as i refer to them out there. >> really about these house republicans. >> tea party, house republicans still won't follow their leader. >> it's always been weather john boehner can wrangle his caucus. >> still a long way to go before the house goes along to get anything passed. >> if it's not accepted in the house, we can't extend the debt
ceiling. >> even if we default on august 2, they will be not worse off than africa. >> michele bachmann surges in the polls, so republicans attack her. >> michele bachmann is doing well, in fact, surging. >> michele bachmann is rising. >> in our latest nbc news "the wall street journal" poll. >> i prescribe medication. >> the story claims bachmann suffers from incapacitating migraines. >> will not affect my ability to serve. >> costs her to miss two days of voting in the house. >> michele bachmann says migraines will not interfere. >> rupert murdoch flies back to the usa. will his troubles follow him? >> so the british hacking scandal is making cell phone users here in the u.s. concerned. >> senator barbara boxer joins me. >> there's no let-up today in the phone hacking scandal. >> members of parliament trained their sights.
>> i am extremely sorry. >> this is the most humble day of my life. >> not so humble you couldn't wait for your turn to talk. >> good evening from new york. well, that didn't take long, just one day after the gang of six bipartisan senators released their framework for deficit reduction with the tentative support of 49 senators and a general air of welcome from the president, house republicans are busy shooting it down. paul ryan, the chairman of the house budget committee and the leadership's designated hitter today released a three-page memo attacking the gang of six proposal, which is actually only one page longer than ryan's memo. ryan says the gang of six
proposal is "a set of talking points and graphs that outlines an ambitious proposal that has serious flaws." the very first problem listed in the ryan memo, of course, heavy reliance on revenues. that's the same issue house majority leader eric cantor raised in his statement last night. cantor said i am concerned with the gang of six's revenue target. i continue to caution that a tax increase is the wrong policy to pursue. with republican leaders still against tax revenue increases, a gang of six proposal should die as quickly as the so-called grand bargains that the president tried to discuss with the republicans in white house meetings. it was obviously easy for the president to welcome the gang of six proposal yesterday. he did not embrace it as some press reports suggested. embracing a proposal means you agree with it, you know what's
in it, and you agree with it. the president acknowledged that he does not know exactly what's in the gang of six proposal, and he welcomed it, though, as the latest entry in the debate, knowing, giving his experience with republican resistance to tax revenue increase that the gang of six proposal would probably be dead within a day or two. that made welcoming that much easier for the president. saying nice things about the soon to be dead gang of six proposal kept the president true to form as he has been throughout the debt ceiling crisis. every day in every way, the president plays the reasonable man character in this drama, the only reasonable man, knowing that the more unreasonable the republicans sound, the easier it is for the president to continue to sound reasonable. the president has won this
perception battle in the polls. our nbc news, "the wall street journal" poll shows, 58% of people support the president's position that there should be a balanced approach to deficit reduction, and 62% of people say the republicans should agree to a balanced approach, including some tax revenue increases. everything the president has said and continues to say about the debt ceiling and deficit reduction is designed to appeal to independent and swing voters who will always hope that the president can find some sort of middle ground, some reasonable middle ground compromise with republicans. some of what the president has said about deficit reduction, about spending cuts in medicare and social security specifically, has troubled some liberal obama supporters who are hanging on the president's every word. medicare and social security cuts are unpopular throughout
the political spectrum. a poll released this month by the pew research center found 50% of republicans, 53% of independents, and 72% of democrats say maintaining social security and medicare benefits is more important than reducing the deficit. and a whopping 87% say social security is good for the country, 88% say medicare is good for the country. talking about budget cuts in medicare and social security is a very different thing from actually doing that. the president is gambling that he can talk about budget cuts in social security and medicare during the debt ceiling standoff to score points for reasonableness but never have to actually execute those cuts and pay the obvious political price for cutting popular programs.
as long as the republicans refuse to negotiate on taxes, the president knows he can make the occasional soft focus comment on what he calls adjustments to medicare and social security and stress how difficult it is for him, as a democrat, to even talk about that, but then never actually have to do anything about it. for a politician in the middle of a reelection campaign talking about tough choices and never having to actually make them is the perfect place to be. president obama and the house republicans are each doing exactly what the obama reelection campaign needs them to do. joining me now is david frum, the founder of frumforum.com, thanks for joining me tonight, david. >> you should be answering questions tonight. that was a very acute analysis.
>> david, can't the republicans see that when the president jumped over that fence and said awhile ago, i'm for the $4 trillion, let's do the grand bargain, and by the way, i'm going to need tax revenue increases. couldn't they see from the start that the grand bargain was impossible, the president was not really committed to a big deficit reduction package because he was always going to include something that was impossible for house republicans? >> but that was -- this is where i bang head on table, right? because i am -- i'm basically a right wing person and if i can get a deal where you preserve the infrastructure of tax rates, you give up something on deductions, schedules, and credits, and you get a democratic president to say i'll go first on medicare, i'll squeeze the providers, or i will make some changes on social security, it won't work when george w. bush leads, but when a
democrat leads, okay, but you have to agree in this 1 in 6, 1 in 7 thing that you don't like. i say let's explore. and the president on health care and now again on this debt ceiling, as you say, he may have been very insincere and counting on republican intransigence to save him from his words, but the words were said, the door was there. this could be the moment where republicans got a lot out of a president who asked only a little from them, overconfident they'd say know. we now see he's rightly confident they'd say no. >> according to our polling, the worst political outcome for the president would have been for the republicans to take that deal he seems to be offering them in the white house that included $3 trillion in spending cuts. the president would have had a republicans got a lot out of a president who asked only a little from them, overconfident they'd say know. we now see he's rightly confident they'd say no. >> according to our polling, the worst political outcome for the president would have been for the republicans to take that deal he seems to be offering them in the white house that included $3 trillion in spending cuts. the president would have had a very serious problem then if he went along with the $3 trillion in spending cuts, because as these polls show, the democrat support for not touching medicare and social security is
at least as strong, and probably stronger, in those voters than the anti-tax, the purity of the anti-tax position is in republican-based voters. >> here's where it does a disservice to everybody. when the typical american poll responds, what they imagine is, i'm not going to get covered. but when you are spending 60% more for the same or worse outcomes than anybody else, there is a lot of space to do cuts without actually interfering with people's real health and outcomes. and those -- the cuts are not hey, necessarily you have a higher co-pay, although that may be part of it. the cuts reimbursement rates may go down, doctors will have less autonomy, the -- more doctors will be looking at a computer screen telling them what the protocol for a certain treatment is. the system will be squeezed, but it is so bloated.
60% more allows for a lot of pressure that doesn't necessarily touch patients until you get well below -- until you're getting down to levels constituents seem to spend. >> we disagree how easy it is to cut medicare. i sat in a room in 1983 with finance committee staff and we pulled out $3 $200 billion in medicare cuts. that included tax increases and deficit reduction accomplished through medicare cuts, and in doing it, i have to tell you, dave, it was a very painful and difficult thing to do. it was all taken out of the provider side. the other thing about it politically is, it was done without a peep. there was not a single liberal objection anywhere in the senate or in the house when bill clinton came in and did a very serious deficit reduction package as his first act as president and went straight at
medicare, but at the same time, went at the tax code and it wasn't this 3 to 1 ratio, it was a 1 to 1. they raised as much revenue as they cut in spending. democrats have done this before, they know how to do it, but nothing like the scale the president, i think, was pretending to do with republicans. >> presidents are what they say, not what they think. and this was the opportunity, certainly, a place republicans could have leaned harder on the president to see how sincere he was. your point about the providers in 1993, very powerful. we do not know if there are efficiencies there. in government, you have limited tools, pull the lever, hope something good comes out the other end, often it's preverse, but given how much spending there is, that's how sam walton made money, he squeezed providers and hoped they'd be able to deliver products that were as good or almost as good
at a lower price, and they did. that may be the thing we have to hope from in medicare if the country is going to avoid bankruptcy. >> the cuts were so noncontroversial, no more than two senators and two house members had any idea what any of the cuts were. there were hundreds in medicare, they didn't know what they were. david frum, founder and editor of frumforum.com. thank you for joining me tonight. still to come, why media wrote the story on michele bachmann's migraines, and how her republicans are trying to stop her. and calls for investigators into rupert murdoch's american holdings. did murdoch's employees break u.s. laws? neutrogena® wet skin .
washington, jefferson, what about f.d.r., and when he died in office, did people say gee, why didn't he tell us he was sick? no. did they say i wish i didn't vote for him? >> no. >> after two days of scrutiny after her newly-revealed battle with migraine headaches, michele bachmann tried to continue to diffuse concerns about her ability to serve as president. today, house physician dr. brian monahan wrote a letter to bachmann stating in part "you are in overall good health, you have a well diagnose for migraines, your migraines occur infrequently and have no trigger factors of which you are aware and know how to avoid. when you do have a migraine, you are able to control it. it has not been necessary for you to take daily medications to manage this condition." the pressure on bachmann is coming from those in her own
party, including carl rogge, this morning on fox news. >> it's going to be important for her to get her doctors out there quickly to provide the medical records and provide the reassurance that people are going to want to have this is not a serious issue. >> word of bachmann's migraines first surfaced monday in the daily caller which quoted three unnamed sources who claim bachmann frequently suffers medical episodes. political reporter today, bachmann missed eight votes in the house last july while being treated for a migraine. when asked about bachmann's fitness for office, tim pawlenty said this today. >> all of the candidates, i think, are going to have to be able to demonstrate they can do all of the job all of the time. if you're going to be president of the united states, you have to be able to do the job all the time.
no time off in the job. >> joining me now, jonathan capehart, contributor for "the washington post." thank you for being here. in that brilliantly-written "west wing" scene that we opened this segment was we lived a long time without knowing anything about presidential candidate's health or the president's health and the country did well not knowing who had migraines, who had some horrible illness that was going to catch up with him. f.d.r. knew he was a sick man and didn't talk about it in any way when he was campaigning or while president. have we gone too far with show me your medical records? >> as part of a different issue for the modern age where there's information about everyone. the american people want to know as much as possible about the person they are putting in the oval office and the person who
can literally have their lives in their hands. as a journalist, i'm perfectly fine with knowing the health as much as i can know, as much as they release. they are not under legal obligation to show their medical records, but i want to know the person sitting in that oval office is not going to pass out, drop dead or whatever because the stress of the job is too much. >> sounds like carl rove wants to know, sounds like the republican establishment is getting very nervous about how michele bachmann is rocketing up in these polls. they want to stop her, don't they? >> right, this is part of a bigger issue. not so much she suffers migraines, it's she is number two in nbc news, "the wall street journal" poll, that she has been doing so well since she became more focussed, more determined and driven to listen to what he tells her to do, and succeed at it. she could very well win the iowa caucuses. it's where she was born, waterloo iowa, she represents
minnesota, right next door. why you showed former governor, tim pawlenty, as long as michele bachmann is number two in the polls, as long as she's nipping at mitt romney's heels, there's noerr for tim pawlenty, if he doesn't win iowa, where does he win? >> it always shows the weakness of the guy who's been thought of as the front runner, romney. and it doesn't strike me that rove and company are particularly out to protect romney, they just want bachmann out of this race. she's the distraction, she's the one they believe can never be president so let's not pretend she can be the nominee. >> folks like carl rove are the establishment, but also the establishment that want to win, they want to beat president obama. they all know, michele bachmann might be able to win the republican nomination, but could she go toe-to-toe with president obama with all the incumbent
advantages he has, could she beat him? not a chance. >> the obama administration is trying to figure out how to say it's perfectly okay to have the occasional headache. you can still be president. they want to do whatever they can to get michele bachmann the nomination. >> they want her there as long as possible. >> john than capehart, thank you so much for joining me tonight. coming up, rupert murdoch's first round against the british government may be over, but he may be facing new questions from this side of the atlantic. senator barbara boxer joins me. if you think rupert murdoch had a hard time yesterday, wait until you see what senator franken did today.
still to come in this hour, senator al franken destroys a witness' testimony during a hearing on the defensive marriage act. you really have to see this. and andrew breitbart's protege tries to prove that foreign terrorists can get medicaid. his target does something shocking, she actually follows the law o'keefe called for a esurance instantly compares our car insurance rates
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government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights as straight couples. >> that was the obama administration continuing to evolve on the marriage equality, yesterday, five days before new york issues licenses to same-sex couples. first congressional hearing on legislation that would repeal the 1996 defensive marriage act. the most memorable moment was an exchange between al franken and tom minnery of focus on the family. >> mr. minnery, on page eight of your written testimony you write "children living in their own married, adoptive, with their own married, biological or adoptive mothers and fathers were generally healthier and
happier, had better access to health care, less likely to suffer mild or severe emotional problems, did better in school, were protected from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and almost never lived in poverty." you cite a -- a department of health and human services study that i have right here from december 2010 to support this conclusion. i checked the study out, and i would like to enter into the record if i may. it actually doesn't say what you said it says. it says that nuclear families, not opposite-sex married families, are associated with those positive outcomes.
isn't it true, mr. minnery, that a married same-sex couple that has had or adopted kids would fall under the definition of a nuclear family in the study that you cite? >> i would think that the study when it cites nuclear families would mean a family headed by a husband and wife. >> it doesn't. the study defines a nuclear family as one or more children living with two parents, who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents to all the children in the family. and i frankly don't really know how we can trust the rest of your testimony if you're reading studies these ways. >> the lead author of that study confirmed to politico today, "senator franken is right."
joining me now, the executive director of the family equality council, jennifer chrisler, she and her spouse are mothers of twin sons. thank you for joining me, jennifer. >> thank you, lawrence, glad to be here. >> with testimony like that, being up forces like that, you start to wonder will any facts matter at all in this debate among the opponents of marriage equality? >> you know, i think the good news is is what's going to matter in this debate is that there are millions of loving same-sex couples raising kids like my spouse and i are and worried about all the things that go into parenting like hugs and homework and bedtime and bathtime and that reality has penetrated the american public. we are seeing it with the president standing up and saying that doma is wrong and anti-family. we're seeing it in new york where this weekend hundreds of loving couples are going to make
that commitment to one another and their families, and it doesn't change the fact the opposition is going to continue to use these mis-information campaigns to try to persuade the rest of the people on what is, frankly, a losing battle for them. >> jennifer, i want to show you one more moment from the hearing, this involved patrick leahy making a point about this. >> if you have parents legally married under the laws of the state, one set of parents are entitled to certain financial benefits for their children, the other set of parents are denied those same financial benefits for their children. are not those children, at least in that aspect of finances, are not those children of the second family, are they not at a disadvantage? yes or no? >> it would be yes, as you ask the question narrowly, senator.
>> that's a question the opponents try to evade. they try to pretend civil unions or the various other arrangements are the same and there are no advantages from the children who would come from legal marriage equality. >> yeah, well, the reality is is that it's not the same. and the truth is that doma only does one thing, and that is harm families, harm children, and harm the kids who really need the safety nets and the benefits that come with legal recognition when their parents are able to be married. and, you know, not only are there the benefits and the rights and the responsibilities that the government confers, but there's the stigma and the symbolic trauma that our kids face every single day when they hear this anti-family rhetoric from the opposition. the truth is is doma is anti-family, doesn't do anything
but harm my family and does nothing to make the american family stronger today. >> jennifer, tell us how you address or deal with your sense of the stigma that children might be picking up within your own family. >> you know, the truth is, is i have twin sons, tim and tom, they are 9 years old, and they have understood from a very early age how much alike our family is to other families, they know that we, you know, participate in the same kinds of traditions, we take them to church, worry about them getting to school, we participate in our communities, and they know that there are politicians and people on the other side who would like to tear their family apart, who would deny them the security of mine and my spouse's relationship, and it is a very real fear and concern that they grapple with, and we have to reassure them all the time, you know, that our family is strong, that we share the same love and
commitment that other families do, and that, in fact, the american public is changing and the president has said clearly that this is a bad law and that congress today is showing the american public the truth about our families. >> executive director of the family equality council, jennifer chrisler, thank you very much for sharing your story with us tonight. >> thank you. >> coming up, rupert murdoch may have more testimony to give. why he could face questions in the united states about his employee's activities and why is james o'keefe using a guy in a kilt to go after medicaid? that's in the rewrite. >> announcer: there's a new breakthrough for men experiencing hair loss. introducing the new extreme lasercomb from hair club. it's quick, easy and affordable, and the extreme lasercomb is revolutionary. here's how it works.
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the government is, o'keefe's biggest star turn was his now completely discredited framing of acorn with one of his edited videos. this time, o'keefe went after a favorite right wing target, medicaid, the federal government, health care assistance program for the poor. one of his "undercover reporters" when into a public assistance office in charleston, south carolina, one of three such visits in the state. the man is wearing a kilt, speaking in what he alone thinks is an irish accent and calling himself shaun murphy. you might recall from the acorn video that o'keefe flavors flamboyant costuming in his videography. he says he needs medicaid help for 25 fellow irishman in a
nearby hospital that were shot in belfast. his group, project veritas says it proves yet another example of widespread medicaid fraud. >> given that shaun murphy tells the state of south carolina he is a terrorist, needs health care for foreign citizens, and expresses incredible wealth, what would the medicare office do? >> how many do you need? >> there's 25 of them. >> that should be approximately 25 applications. you are welcome to take copies if you need more. the disability report, these don't have to be signed, so it is definitely not in my own best interest to divulge anything to anyone, because i could not afford it. i do not want to go to jail.
i don't know. >> well, i don't want to go to jail either, so i don't want anybody to know what my business is. >> well, your business is your business. the only information that i will request is whatever information is needed to process applications. >> now here's what you learn when you watch the inedited version of that videotape. the woman being targeted is not buying this story. it is taking very long pauses to think about what to say in response to the insanity that is coming her way. if you work in a government office that is open to the public, dealing with crazy people politely is part of the job. there's no reason to assume that she believed a word the preposttrous figure was saying. if she has for some reason followed what the irish call
"the troubles," she would know that at no point in her lifetime have 25 ira members been shot, and that no member of the ira has been shot in the last three and a half years. also sharing any information shaun murphy told her would be illegal. >> now, one thing you need to know about medicaid is that everything is confidential. >> uh-huh. >> any information, unless someone brings a subpoena to subpoena the records, then no information goes anywhere if anybody walked in the door and asked me questions, i'd tell them that federal law prohibits me from discussing any part of this. like i said, somebody would have to come here and subpoena our information in order for us to divulge any information. >> okay.
>> threaten with high fines, which they don't pay me as much per year as they threaten to fine me, so it is definitely not in my own best interest to divulge anything to anyone because i could not afford it, i do not want to go to jail. >> this honorable south carolina state employee, obviously, accustomed to dealing with crazy people also repeatedly makes it clear in she's simply doing her job in responding to his inquiries about the application process and there is no guarantee he and his fictitious associates will receive any medicare assistance. >> like i said, i'm not promising. does the hospital not have some type of charity program that could potentially help? >> well, we're looking at everything right now.
>> now earlier today, we reached out to the south carolina department of health and human services, their press office said they'd call us right back with their chief information officer on the line, but that never happened. we do know that state officials are, for some reason, actually investigating this incident for any possible wrong doing on the part of state employees. on his project veritas website, james o'keefe boosts that in this time of economic uncertainty, the american people deserve to know how their tax dollars are being wasted. this should be a wake-up call for close scrutiny of the medicaid system. he's right to say the american people deserve to know how their tax dollars are being wasted, and now the people of south carolina know their tax dollars are being wasted investigating a goofy right-wing stunt. of course, i regret and i am [ female announcer ] the healing power of touch
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of course, i regret and i am extremely sorry about the fury it has caused with 20/20 hindsight and all that has followed, i would not have offered him the job, and i expect he wouldn't have taken it. but you don't make decisions in hindsight, you make them in the present. you live and you learn, and believe you me, i have learned. >> british prime minister david cameron expressing regret before parliament today over his decision to hire former "news of the world" editor, andy coulson, as his communications director. coulson is one of many key players at the heart of the hacking scandal that's taking
part in the uk and here in the united states. the justice department has opened an investigation into news corp.'s conduct in if there were efforts to obtain voice mails and telephone records of 9/11 victims in the united states. today, frank lutenburg wrote a letter urging them to revisit a 2005 complain that employees at a news corp. subsidiary allegedly hacked into a new jersey competitor's company computers. and barbara boxer and jay rockefeller are calling on member of the dow jones and company special committee to take a closer look at news corp.'s senior executives. in their letter they wrote the american people need to be assured this type of misconduct hasn't occurred in the united states and the senior executives in our country were not aware of
or complicit in any wrong doing. while rupert murdoch insists that he has no knowledge of wrongdoing here in the states, he's making the moves of someone who needs serious legal help. in addition to hiring three public relations giants in the last week, the "new york times" reports news corp. has hired brendan sullivan jr., one of the most-accomplished criminal defense lawyers in the country, joining me now, one of the senators calling for a closer look into news corp.'s u.s. practices, california senator, barbara boxer, thanks for joining me tonight, senator. >> thanks for having me on the show. >> senator, what has provoked your interest specifically, and why direct your letter to dow jones? >> well, here's where we are, lawrence, at this point.
we do want to ensure the american people that their phones weren't hacked into, that there weren't payoffs going on whether it's corporate espionage or anything else. we want to make sure that american laws have been followed, including the foreign corrupt practices act, which prohibits american companies -- remember, news corp. is an american company -- from paying people off to gain an advantage, and it looks like that has happened in britain, and that would be, in fact, a violation of the law, and i think the fact they are lawyering up says they take the letter senator rockefeller and i wrote very seriously. and you asked my interests, i'm a senior member of the commerce committee and jay rockefeller is a wonderful chairman of the committee and we have teamed up here, we have oversight over the communications and mergers, news mergers, so that's why we are
very concerned here. >> you mentioned in your letter, les hinton specifically, at "the wall street journal" and it's that kind of cross fert lieization of the personnel that starts to become very worrying, doesn't it? >> it's very worrying, that's why we wrote to this independent oversight committee that was a condition of the sale when "the wall street journal," dow jones company, which owns "the wall street journal," when that sale went through, one of the conditions by the family who owned "the wall street" was they set up this independent committee, and the whole idea was to ensure the integrity of "the wall street journal," so what did they do? they hired somebody who frankly is very closely, very closely entwined in this entire british scandal.
he testified before the parliament that there was only one newspaper reporter that actually gained information through hacking, he admitted that he approved payments to that news reporter and a private investigator that went to jail on this, so we're very concerned that the comments they've made so far is no problem, and we just want to make sure that's true, and that's why we sent this letter today. >> and senator, the attitude expressed in "the wall street journal," very defensive article this week about this situation, saying hey, look, everybody does it. that's not the kind of thing i would imagine would give you much comfort on how things work in murdoch's american media properties. >> well, they are saying a lot of things. as you say, they've lawyered up, they've hired p.r. people, there's even an opinion piece that ran against senator rockefeller and my idea here which is that there were violations of the foreign
corrupt practices act. they said that act had nothing to do with newspapers. it has to do with all, all american corporations, so they are fighting back, and it could get ugly, but i've got to tell you, truth has a way of coming to the surface, we'll keep asking the questions and making sure our people are protected. >> senator boxer, before you go, i have to ask you about this small matter of the debt ceiling, is the gang of six proposal, as thin as it is right now without specificity, something you think that may be the thing that leads the way to a solution here? >> i think it could be part of the solution, and there are things in it that i think are good, there are things in it that i question. if you want to ask me more details, i'm happy to say it, tell you what they are, but the best thing about it is that republicans and democrats have come together, and in this environment, it's really important, and it gives me hope, and i think, you know, again,
there are things in there i think are good, for example, there's revenue, but in terms of budget enforcement, doesn't look like those revenues have much behind it by way of budget enforcement where the spending cuts do, these are things we need to look at. i do like the fact, lawrence, they fund the highway trust fund out ten years, which is terrific, as the chairman of the environmental works committee, we need to fund infrastructure, they do that. there's good, there's not so good, but i do believe this will give us some legs to put together something that will get us through this. i just want to say, 89 times congress has raised the debt ceiling, mostly under republican presidents. i think 18 times under ronald reagan, that was the most we ever did it, and not one of my colleagues ever played games like this, and you're playing with fire here, and america can't be a deadbeat nation. >> senator barbara boxer from california, thank you very much for joining me tonight.